Book review, The Rainbow Trail by Zane Grey

By MILT GROSS | Apr 13, 2014
Photo by: Milt Gross As is true of all of the late Zane Gray’s books, this tale of the wild country in and around the Grand Canyon is excellent.

This 1915 Zane Grey book, published by Harper & Brothers, continues the tale in his 1912 Riders of the Purple Sage, not of the main characters but of Jane Withersteen and Lassiter. I imagine that when Grey wrote the first one, he had the 1915 story in mind.

In The Riders of the Purple Sage, Withersteen and friend Lassiter are harassed and flee Withersteen’s ranch to hide in a remote mountain valley. Lassiter blocks the valley from intruders by pushing a boulder down into the trail that ascends to the valley. In The Rainbow Trail that valley enters the story near the end. That’s where the The Rainbow Trail hero, Shefford, saves the couple’s daughter, Fay Larkin, who had fled those who would harm her.

But -- a good complicated plot -- the The Rainbow Trail Shefford is seeking another girl with whom he had fallen in love when he comes upon Larkin. Larking, it turns out, is actually the girl Shefford is seeking.

The Rainbow Trail involves lots of action, most taking place in the high country and canyons near the Grand Canyon. Chased by the villains led by an evil Mormon. The villains are killed in a freak accident and the others escape to the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

This tale looks at Mormonism, stating that there are good and not-so-good Mormons as in any other religious belief. It also talks about Indians and describes in detail -- action-packed detail -- the mountains and canyons in the area.

Shefford was a former minister, who had left that calling and ridden West -- the direction so many in good westerns ride. He changes from an Easterner, who is new to the action and hardships of the West, to a true hero and Westerner.

The story is complicated but satisfying, ending with the good guys winning and sharing their memories and with Shefford fondly recalling the details of the West in which he had ridden and won his sweetheart Larkin.

Although Grey’s novels are similar due to their setting, each one is intriguing in itself, as is Rainbow Trail. lists the hardback for $20.48 and the paperback for $5.39. I purchased mine with a group of Grey’s novels from a resident of a small town in Maine. I forget the price I paid, but it was worth it.

Wherever you find your copy of The Rainbow Trail, it will give you a mighty find recliner-chair ride through the Old West.

Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at

Milton M. Gross Copyright 2014

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